We will be running this periodically during the con:
A Star called Wormwood
The Ghost Dance caused the dead to rise up and devour the white men and their cities. Correctionist agents from the far future armed with nanotech seek to steer the course of humanity. The Servants of Preservationist Society issue justice from the barrel of a gun oppose both mad science and undead. It is the post-Civil War zombie apocalypse with time travelers. Using the FATE Core rules system.
Don't be afraid to up the CR. 4+ PCs is vastly different than 4. I have a party of 5-7 (usually 6) and even upping the CR, most encounters haven't been much more than a speed bump to them.
Right now my party is mid-way through Chapter Three (they are 9th level, with one of those levels being either warrior or expert). They demolished the Grauls in short order (with loads of extra ogrekin and additional class levels for all the named ogrekin). I think Muck Graul lasted a single round. Black Magga was actually something of a challenge -- and I had her at full HP's and being fought from the deck of a boat and underwater. Gorger & Chaw (advanced ettin) = speed bump. 8 ogres + Malgrue + a Stone Giant on top of Skull Crossing = neatly eliminated in under five rounds. Trolls (advanced and with 2 levels of barbarian) = 4 rounds, maybe. Papa Grazuul (5 levels of barbarian and 2 mythic ranks) = six rounds and down.
So...don't be afraid to beef things up!!
As a GM, I try to say "yes" as often as possible.
Sure, allow witches and alchemists potions and wizards scrolls.
However, I might up the CR of encounters a little -- or chain a couple encounters together.
I would do my best to make sure they used those potions. Future encounters would similarly assume the party is "fully potion-ed".
You could also build entire adventures around the quest for rare potion reagents.
I like my starting adventures to be very low key.
A friend of a friend is a fisherman. He holed his keel and is stranded on a nearby uninhabited Seal Island. The friend has his own boat and needs some help with the rescue. It is probably no big deal. Take a boat ride to the island and help with repairs. The friend has engaged the PCs because not much is known about Seal Island and it might be dangerous and they are tough (being PC’s rather than experts or commoners). Seal Island could contain anything: old dwarf ruins, a weird statue, dangerous wild animals, a sealed chest cast up on the surf, old human bones, belligerent seals, ghosts or haunts, whatever. The key is to fit the challenge to the power and playing style of the players. Do they like mysteries and puzzles or do they like action? Or a mix? Introduce the friend and the FOAF as NPCs for the PCs to interact (role play) with. It might also be useful in a fishing village to have a friend with a boat. (No gender bias intended; the NPCs could be male or female.) The rescued fisherperson might also be grateful to the PCs for their assistance and romance could blossom.
For my next home brewed campaign I'm going to try something different...
None of the races (human or not) will have skin pigments falling within the rather narrow band found on Earth. There still might be prejudice -- but it will probably be more humanoid sub-type vs. other humanoid sub-type or culture/society vs. culture/society.
None of the cultures and societies presented will have gender bias -- unless that be generally leaning toward matriarchy or gynarchy (but most will be egalitarian). I think leaving out patriarchies still leaves plenty of other "-archies" and "-isms" to play with.
None of the cultures or societies will have "hang-ups" about gender preference. There will probably still be sexual hang-ups and such -- but they won't have anything to do with which gender someone finds attractive.
None of the "races" will be inherently or automatically evil or good. Societies and cultures will certainly view other different and/or competing societies and cultures as "evil", but a detect evil won't register a newborn orc (equivalent) as evil. Frankly if I can think of a way to eliminate alignments, I will do so.
I'm curious to see how this goes.
Not sure what your point is.
I possit, that if the dam were easy to chip and break or quarry someone would have done so. People are stupid. At some point in the last 10K years some idiot would have attempted to break the dam. That is just human (and humanoid) nature. They would have broken the dam and they would have done it in the most stupid way possible. Stealing stone from an unattended monument is easy -- just look at our own very limited RW history -- which currently doesn't include much of anything still standing after 10K years. People are terrible at thinking through their actions. Do a quick google search on dam disasters and you will see plenty of modern examples of basic human greed and laziness resulting in disaster.
Nevermind that there have been evil humanoids in the area for thousands of years as well.
If their actions didn't break the dam before now -- why would it suddenly work now? I get that: OMG the DAM is Gonna Bust is good theater! (I think it more "camp" than good theater though.) And sure I'm going to let the party think that the actions of the ogres in breaking the dam migh result in catastropy. But am I worried about it actually bursting? Probably not. The party will think it is an emergency, which is fine. They know "jack" about Thassalonian engineering.
The King's School was founded by St. Augustine wasn't it? And it taught monks (certainly through most of the Middle Ages). Not exactly a one-room frontier school house teaching the local children.
Don't get me started on anything close to the historical accuracy of Golarion's firearms. They are more magic than technology.
My point is that the local infrastructure of TBF would probably not support the schoolhouse (complete with Pretty School Marm, 1 ea.) as written. My party is pretty much done with worrying about TBF at this point. They demolished Black Magga (while fighting her at full health in the middle of the lake) and are now on to deal with Fort Rannick and Skull Crossing.
Sorcerers are different too.
Sorcery upon Dunhya is not based upon ancestral bloodlines, but rather upon ritual attunement to mystical nexuses called motompyra. Lines of power extending through the ethereal plane, called mkondo, connect a sorcerer and his motompyra. It is very hard to sever mkondo – but doing so, generally deprives a sorcerer of the ability to case spells or manifest Bloodline Arcana but does not generally interrupt Bloodline Powers.
If you want to be a sorcerer:
1. What is the name of your motompyra?
2. Why is it special?
3. Bloodlines: Select up to four bloodlines (this can include mutated bloodlines from the Wildblooded Archetype) that embody the essence of your motompyra as per the Crossblooded Archetype.
4. Class Skill: A sorcerer can select any one skill to be a class skill. Generally this skill is associated with the ritual that attunes a sorcerer to her motompyra.
5. Bonus Spells: The sorcerer may select her bonus spells from any of her bloodlines (as per the Crossblooded Archetype). The sorcerer also has the choice to learn a lower-level bonus spell she did not choose in place of the higher-level bonus spell she would normally gain. Lower-level bonus spells learned this way always use the spell level that they would be if the sorcerer had learned them with the appropriate bonus spell.
6. Bonus Feat: A sorcerer combines the bonus feat lists from all of her bloodlines and may select her bloodline bonus feats from this combined list.
7. Bloodline Arcana: The sorcerer chooses a single bloodline arcana from one of the bloodlines associated with her motompyra.
8. Bloodline Powers: At 1st, 3rd, 9th, 15th, and 20th levels, a sorcerer gains one of the new bloodline powers available to her at that level – selected from any of the bloodlines associated with her motompyra. She may instead select a lower-level bloodline power she did not choose in place of one of these higher-level powers.
9. Drawbacks: Each motompyra has its own unique drawbacks. Additionally the nature of a sorcerer’s connection via mkondo through the ethereal plane to the source of her power leaves her mentally unstable. All sorcerers suffer a -2 penalty to Will saves. The mkondo that connect a sorcerer to her motompyra can be blocked or severed.
The Orb of Cruthe, is an ancient extra-planar artifact that lies at the center of the ethereal plane. The ritual of attunement is very well known and relatively easy to master. Perception is a class skill for sorcerers bound to the Orb of Cruthe. Sorcerers bound to the Orb of Cruthe may manifest abilities from the following bloodlines: Aberrant, Arcane, Starsoul, or Anarchic (Wildblooded Protean bloodline). The nature of the connection to the Orb inhibits lying. A sorcerer attuned to the Orb suffers a -2 circumstance penalty to Diplomacy, Bluff, and Intimidate skill checks.
Anhizger’s Skull, is the worn skull of a primitive troll shaman. Attunement to the Skull is achieved by communing with Anhizger’s spirit – still bound to the skull. Sorcerers bound to the Skull learn Trollish (Bonus Language: Troll), and must survive the harsh trek to where the Skull rests in the depths of the Bad Axe Forest. Survival is considered a class skill. The Skull may manifest abilities from the Dreamspun or Verdant bloodlines. These sorcerers also receive a +2 circumstance bonus to any Charisma-based skills versus any humanoids of the giant subtype. Contact with the spirit of Anhizger carries a lasting psychic taint. Sorcerers attuned to the Skull suffer a -4 penalty to any saves versus haunts or any kind.
More to come...
I'm crafting a home-brewed Pathfinder campaign setting. I will be making some changes to a variety of things and seek constructive feedback.
Clerics Are Different:
Dunhya has thousands of deities. The gods here are generally less involved in the affairs of mortals than upon other worlds. In as much as any mortal can know the mind of the divine – they don’t seem to care. To further insulate and isolate themselves from mortals there are numerous layers of semi-divine (often immortal) functionaries, go-betweens, servants, sycophants, and lackeys
Changes to Clerics
Example: Belarion of the Silver Sword, NG Hero God of Personal Combat, Honor, and Victory. Clerics of Belarion are healers attached to military units. Domains: Healing & Protection. Clerics channel positive energy using the Variant Channeling for Protection domain. Favored Weapon: Bastard Sword, no proficiency with shields.
I'm looking at the possibility of running some "unofficial" tentatively scheduled games in whatever OPEN GAMING space is available.
Is there any interest in?
1. WaRP Superheroes Game (Using the WaRP System -- much like tbug last year). Basic premise is that all the American supers left on Thursday...ASA (American Supers Agency) has recruited foreign supers to fill the gap until they return. Bring your green card and an idea for a villain to the table.
2. Unknown East. Pathfinder RPG sandbox game of exploration in a non-Golarion setting.
So the floodgates are currently closed, yes?
The Deep is filling and more pressure is being exerted on the dam.
But the ogres have created a spillway -- which will function the same way the floodgates do. When the water reaches a certain level it will flow over the spillway created by the ogres.
If you open the floodgates, the water will not reach the spillway and flow out of the bottom of the dam instead. Yes, this will reduce the pressure on the dam. But the spillway is doing that anyway isn't it?
You could argue that the spillway is insufficient to provide adequate relief of pressure. Which is fine.
The whole flash flood thing should be a non-issue. In the past the water of the Deep would reach X level (or pressure or whatever) and the pit fiends would open the flood gates. Whoosh! The Skull River and Claybottom Lake would flood. Every year. That is how floodgates work. In fact I would venture that the flow caused by the floodgates would be much stronger than that caused by the ogre spillway (given that the floodgates have more pressure behind them than the top of the dam).
I made a number of changes to Turtleback Ferry and Hook Moutain.
I removed the bridges across the Skull River. At the lower bridge site on the area map is now a turtle-back ferry run by two Shoanti brothers. A huge rope hawser extends across the river to allow the brothers to pull their boats across. They also row passengers across Claybottom Lake to Pendak and to Bitter Hollow (if desired).
There are numerous trails along the southern slopes of Hook Mountain. Trails extend from Bitter Hollow to the ferry landing and from the ferry landing to Fort Rannick and Skull’s Crossing. There is also a large track from the Kreeg Clanhold down to Coal Lake, around the north shore of the lake and a bit upstream to a ford, and through the foothills of the Iron Peaks – enabling Barl to transport weapons and armor to Jorgenfist. The Graul farm is now back in the weeds quite a ways and it is several miles from where Kibb encounters the party to the farm (rather than right off the ferry landing).
The Grauls got some beefing up and additions to their numbers. (They still barely proved to be more than a speed bump to my party!) If I had to do it again I would get Mammy out of the house so she has some room to fly (maneuver). Having her stuck in the back room was less than optimal even with Hucker coming to rescue her. She has The Kardosian Codex among her treasure (we’ll have to see if the party ever figures out what that is). I also gave her all sorts of necromantic toys – which the party will probably sell. Given the size of the party I killed off all the Black Arrows (I don’t need the extra NPCs) except for Tsuto who is kind of a scrub compared to the party – but he can provide them information about what is happening at the Fort.
Overall I’m giving each of the BBEG’s a unique magic item in addition to what they have listed. Mammy had a specialized necromantic runestaff (adapted from 3.5e). Lucrecia has a mirror (mostly for divination and enchantments – but keyed to Sihedron amulets). Barl has a rune-ring (works like a runestaff, but is a ring).
The village of Turtleback Ferry is surrounded by a wooden palisade. The school is now part of the Church of Abadar (rather than Erastil). The Bottom’s Up is little more than a rough shack and the Turtle’s Parlor owes its existence to the Paradise.
The encounter aboard the still floating (and operating) Queen of Paradise is pretty extensive. I beefed up Lucrecia a bit (as the party will be well rested when they encounter her) and gave her three faceless stalker assassins and several trained venomous snake swarms. She has some “enforcers” aboard the Queen, but I don’t imagine they will involve themselves much.
I typically have six characters at the table – so a number of the encounters have been beefed up. Fort Rannick is no exception. All the Kreeg ogres got a make-over as did the “scrub” ogres. I added a couple of “named” Kreeg Ogres: Kegal Kreeg (Advance Ogre Barbarian 5) in the Barracks, Unzgarm Ghostface (Advanced Ogre Adept 5) in the Chapel with Jaagrath, and Mossback Kreeg (Advanced Ogre Druid 4) in the Tribunal. Lorgus Fenker is a Dread Spectre Ranger (Skirmisher) 5/Rogue 4 who has a special hatred for one of the PC’s. As Lucrecia is down on her boat at Turtleback Ferry, area B36 (the Cells) is now occupied by a Hill Giant Ghast.
The ogre demotion crew at Skull’s Crossing are now led by a stone giant engineer-mason.
The party’s goal at Skull’s Crossing will now be to limit the water flow by shutting the now open floodgates. Rather than the whole pit fiend mechanism there is a now a malfunctioning “life-spark” construct. After all the fighting that goes on in the Chapter I want to give them a chance to do some RP – and Lever Guy who has been rusting here for 10000 years seems like a good option.
Prior to dealing with Myriana the party will get to play with a witchfire and some will-o’-the-wisps.
Barl brought some of his buddies to Hook Mountain. The front door is watched by Agronil Iceaxe, a stone giant ranger, and Blackclaw (advance lion). Nosrel Isgrim, the smith (Cyclops oracle 7) oversees the crafting of weapons and armor at the forge in the Clanhold (D6). Guarding Barl is Moantar Stonefury (Stone Giant Barbarian 4) and another beefed up stone giant (yet to be determined). Lamatar is now a Winterspawn and each of the hags (D7) is getting a make-over.
Yeah, I’m not going to be able to resist. I’m going to extend Down Comes the Rain.
The ogres, now led by Nostendra, a stone giant engineer/mason, have done enough damage to the Skull’s Crossing to allow Black Magga to get out of the Storval Deep. She is now loose in Claybottom Lake – and I plan on treating it like a typical lake monster mystery.
I’ve done away with the bridges over the Skull River – and replaced them with a single giant turtle-shell ferry at the place where the lower bridge is indicated on the area map. This is the “Turtleback Ferry” and it has been run by a Shoanti family since before the coming of the tshamek to this area. A massive rope hawser stretches across the Skull, which brothers Chorkus and Beyus use to haul their boats across (dudes have enormous thews from all the hauling). They have two turtle-backs, so they also row passengers across Claybottom to Pendak or Bitter Hollow.
The first sign of trouble will be a snapped hawser – which should raise some eyebrows. This will be followed by some wrecked fishing nets and then an empty fishing boat. I want to gradually up the ante (so I’m looking for suggestions – bathers on the beach in January seems extreme).
As I have a couple of giant gars and a giant snapping turtle in Claybottom Lake – an epic kaiju battle might be fun. If the party chooses to get involved – so much the better. I have a rather reckless druid who has a thing for kaiju. I can totally see him shape-changing and jumping in the fray!
The village of Pendak isn’t very well protected – so having Black Magga ravage it might be fun.
In my campaign the Queen of Paradise, Lucrecia’s gambling boat, still plies the waters of Claybottom Lake and the Skull River (down to Ilsurian). Lucrecia hasn’t yet pulled the plug (so to speak) and drowned all the greedy souls for her Master. However it won’t be long before Black Magga does her work for her. I hope to have the party on the Queen while that is happening. I think having them fight Lucrecia and her faceless stalker assassins while Black Magga is sinking the boat will be a fun battle.
All of this will give me time to play on the rising waters of Claybottom Lake. The party will be able to see that if the waters get too high Black Magga will be able to more easily assault the village of Turtleback Ferry. This will give them impetus to go to Skull Crossing and halt the activities of the ogre destruction crew, stop the hag coven, and close the floodgates (rather than open them – duh – the problem isn’t releasing the waters – the ogre created spillway is already doing that – but rather limiting the amount of water that is being released).
If the party doesn’t do something and if she isn’t licking her wounds at the bottom of the lake, Black Magga will assault Turtleback Ferry crushing the log palisade (something I added) and running (swimming, wallowing) rampant through the streets. Given the rest of what is going on I will probably skip the night belly boa encounter. And the school encounter is now (more aptly) a church encounter. Should be a good time.
I'm facing the same issue: little chance for RP in the second half of the AP. But I have some ideas...
* I plan on doing more with the other giants running about on the Storval Plateau. Some of them are reluctant to join Mokmurian's cause -- which could give the party opportunity to RP. Also there are stone giants (besides Conna the Wise) who are working to undermine Mokmurian.
* The rise of the Karzoug isn't going to just be bad for Sandpoint and Magnimar. It is also going to be terribly bad for the Shoanti. They still tell horror stories about Giant Rune Kings enslaving them. I'm going to steal some of the ideas from Curse of the Crimson Throne to interject into RotRL. But the Shoanti are far from united and many are going to believe that the giants will target the tzemik (sp?) first.
...maybe more to come if I can think of something.
For the AP's I've GM'ed and played in the key has always been having a backstory or premise that unites the players.
I've run Runelords twice. Both times the party has had compelling reasons to stay together and "care" about completing the AP. Once they were all members of the Dwarven Construction company that built the Sandpoint Cathedral. The second time, and more effectively, they were all members of the Magnimar Special Division of the Watch -- so fixing things in Sandpoint, Magnimar, and Turtleback Ferry was their job.
But even for other AP's (and I think) RPGs in general, having a compelling reason for the party to be together really solidifies a campaign.
As far as RotRL goes -- as a GM I would advise...
* Use the no XP option and level the party when needed. Tracking XP is a drag and this way you can freely have the party encounter whatever is cool and not have to worry about them being too powerful for whatever is next in the AP.
* The AP Railroad can get to be a bit much. Plan some side treks.
* Don't worry about Chapter One being largely unrelated to Chapter Two or Three. Burnt Offerings is the primer to let the PCs thrash some goblins and have fun.
* Expand the party's time in Sandpoint and let them get to know (and love) the local NPCs. This will make the dangers posed by the Skinsaw Man and the giant assault more meaningful.
* Adjust things as much as necessary for your players to have fun. Remember the old saw that the rules (and the scenario) as written are a guideline. Deviate freely.
* Make sure both YOU and your players are having fun.
Well you could run some side stuff before you fully enter Chapter Two which would give you time to introduce Aldern to the party.
Pretty much anything out of the back of Dark Waters Rising makes for good "between chapters" fodder.
Let them run amok out at Shank's Wood or the Paupers' Graves. Aldern could easily get into trouble and need rescuing.
You don't have to follow the official timeline. Heck you could even play around with Iesha still being alive for a bit -- maybe the two of them visit Sandpoint and need rescuing. Maybe one of the party members single-handedly rescues Iesha. That would certainly set Aldern "off". He is all polite and smiles and then takes her back to Misgivings and confronts her about her feelings for "her rescuer".
Just some ideas.
There were probably some trappers and hunters in the region prior to Fort Rannick -- but until the rangers arrived they were probably easy pickings for the Kreeg's. Which would account for why the Black Arrows vigorously worked to eliminate them.
I think that Magnimar probably had interests in the area. They added Wartle to their domain in 4611, Galduria sometime after 4629, and Nybor sometime after 4641.
Actually, I think it is a stupid place to build a fort from a strategic sense. But, we sort of have to work with what we are given. And if the fort was actually at Turtleback Ferry (which would make more sense), our story would fall apart...
Not to belabor the point -- but please show me the magic that enables easy quarrying and dressing of stone? And how much does that cost? I'm not saying that stealing stones from Skull Crossing would be cheap, but it might be the cheaper alternative to either hiring skilled masons or wizards.
I also not sure the ROI on Fort Rannick would justify the expense of carving such a place out of the side Hook Mountain. It could be that the rangers got all sorts of "undocumented" treasure from the battle of the Valley of Broken Trees and used that the build their new fort.
I don't think there is a "right" answer to all of this -- just different ways of interpreting the text and providing for a "good story" (or really just a good time by the players). For my part, I'm mostly going to rely on the fact that my players are largely uninterested in anything outside of "where are the monsters" and "how do we kill them". They are pretty happy to follow the plot train without questioning "why". The only one asking "why" is me, the GM, and I'm not sure the answer matters.
There is a big, big difference between stones that can be used as building material and your average "pulled this off the mountain" stone. There is also a whole industry around quarrying stones for building materials -- and quarried stones aren't cheap.
"I didn't build the dam -- so why should I care? It is far cheaper and easier to move stones already cut than to cut my own. Magnimar is financing this and they are cheap," said the project manager.
As far as those villages downstream -- "I'm sure if I take just a few stones it won't matter. I mean this dam has stood for hundreds of years. A couple stones won't make a difference," said every builder ever.
Finally, what villages? I'm not assuming that those villages even existing when Fort Rannick was built (4662). More likely that the security provided by Fort Rannick allowed for settlements along Clay Bottom Lake. Before Fort Rannick it was a monster infested wilderness.
-- We know when Ilsurian was founded (4631), but I'm not sure there is information on when Turtleback Ferry, Pendak, or Bitter Hollow were founded.
However, while I will grant that Skull Crossing has impressive preservation magics cast upon it -- either it is impervious to being physically dismantled or it isn't.
If it can be physically destroyed that would have already happened. Buildings from Turtleback to Ilsurian and beyond would have been built with the handy pre-quarried stone, the dam would have already been destroyed, and the Storval Deep drained and washed away everything downstream. (As a point of reference see what happens to ancient monuments in the RW or the Irespan in Magnimar.)
I'm also curious why the Black Arrows haven't explored it -- as it sits on their very doorstep. I can't imagine they were put off by a few trolls.
If it can't be physically destroyed, why would Barl bother sending the ogres to chip away at it?
Maybe I'm being to critical. Okay. No "maybe". I am being too critical.
Let me be constructive instead.
Let us say that Skull Crossing IS capable of being physically destroyed, but the remoteness and proximity to monsters (like Black Magga) has kept the local quarrymen and masons at bay. It isn't like Skull Crossing is right next to a deep draft harbor or any place any sane individual would want to build a town or city. Though I imagine that large parts of Fort Rannick were built with stones stolen from the dam. This would give Barl's ogres very convenient points to physically attack (those areas already weakened by the actions of the fort's builders) and a chance of causing enough physical damage to break the dam.
I also gives us a source of stones for Fort Rannick without needing to quarry the local stone -- always a pain. And I can indicate that the stones of Fort Rannick (when the party gets there) seem in many ways far too large for humans to have quarried. Nice bit of detail that they will ponder.
I can probably live with that.
I totally buy it as a church rather than a schoolhouse -- good suggestion, NobodysHome.
I'm still pondering all of Part Three: Down Comes the Rain. I think it might make a nice break from the "Kill the Ogres/Giants Train", but I'm having the usual problems with Skull's Crossing is 10K years old and survived the Earthfall.
A. It is 10,000 years old!!! (In the RW 10K years ago was the Upper Paleolithic period.) If it was going to fail, it would have failed way before now.
B. As stated previously by other contributors, fighting Black Magga doesn't really buy the party or the story much. And really pursuing her could be a fatal distraction.
I grew up in Podunk when they actually had one-room school houses, so I'm familiar with #2.
I certainly I don't buy a program of public education in Varisia. Varisia which isn't so much a nation as a frontier area in part claimed by three competing city-states -- none of which would seem to have an interest in educating remote peasants. And filled with monsters!
I'm also not sure what you would be teaching said peasant children.
Reading, writing,and 'rithmatic? Why? Will it help them be better farmers, trappers, hunters, or fishers? Not that I'm aware of.
This goes into the pile of "stuff I'm changing" in this AP.
Kairos Dawnfury wrote:
What are people's experiences with Kaven Windstrike trying to slip away? I'm trying to get an idea how to handle this next session since last one ended with them rescuing the Black Arrows.
I killed all the Black Arrows except for Tsuto (who I left alive mostly for laughs, as he hates the party).
I decided that the party didn't need the additional firepower of the Black Arrows.
They stomped all the Grauls outside the farmhouse (and I had added three and truly beefed them up) and made short work of Biggun' (I upped him to 160hp's and he still only survived four rounds of combat -- stupid spider!).
I also didn't bring Shalelu along (again, they didn't need help), so the whole side-story with her step-father won't come into play.
As far as knowing the layout of the Fort -- I figure they can figure it out on their own.
Given the age of civilizations on Avistan -- 4000+ years for some areas. I would tend to think that most of the easily accessible ores and minerals would already be out of the ground.
Look at our own world and the amount of effort required to extract minerals today -- and this is only after 2-3K years of civilization engaged in mining. And we don't even have magic available to us!
Unless there is some sort of magical replenishment tied to someplace like the Elemental Plane of Earth -- most of Avistan is a mined out husk (hence all the old mines now serving as dungeons).
I pretty much dropped Shalelu from everything post-Burnt Offerings. But I also killed off all the Black Arrows except Tsuto (who had been sentenced to Fort Rannick by his father Justice Ironbriar after being captured in the Glassworks by the party and returned to Magnimar) -- and he isn't in great shape.
Plus the party sort of dilly-dallied on the way to Turtleback Ferry, so by the time they got to the Graul's most of the Black Arrows had been made into barbeque. They should discover that this week in fact!
I generally have six at the table as well and they don't need the extra firepower. So while her whole storyline is interesting, it's not really critical to the overall plot (IMO).
Not that I'm advocating historical accuracy is always desired. But this at least yields what you would expect to find in a medieval European village. Which some folks might find a bit dull (okay, just about everyone finds dull). But I think a bit more interesting than finding a 3rd level rogue under every rock.
Another thing to consider is that the Seven are currently murdering greedy folk at Xanesha's behest. The party could easily stumble upon a murder scene.
To my mind the two halves of Chapter Two are tenuously linked at best. Seeding the story with the murders of other greedy individuals in Magnimar (check out the Skinsaw Murders thread for Xanesha's list) solidifies the link between the two places and is also likely to throw the scent off Aldern somewhat.
Butch A. wrote:
Why, exactly, does Turtleback Ferry have ferries?
For my part I am eliminating the road that runs along the eastern shore of Claybottom Lake and the bridge across the Skull River (just north of TBF).
The giant turtle-back ferries ply the Lake from Turtleback Ferry to Pendaka and across the Skull River (to a point that is mid-way between the current crossing and the bridge).
I had read that originally the encounter at the Paradise was cut due to length and that Nick Logue later re-purposed it as Spider's End for his Curse of the Crimson Throne adventure. I decided that having Lucrecia appear as an afterthought at Fort Rannick was anti-climactic, considering my party had traipsed across the breadth of Varisia to find her. So, presented below is the revised Paradise encounter -- before being sunk. (This is still a work in progress -- but I thought I would post what I have created so far for the general amusement of all.)
Welcome to the Queen of Paradise!
The Queen of Paradise is Lucrecia’s lair upon Claybottom Lake at Turtleback Ferry. It is a large riverboat that cruises Claybottom Lake from a moorage at Turtleback Ferry and up and down the Skull River to the village of Ilsurian.
The Queen of Paradise is a 140 ft. long, triple-decked stern-wheel paddle boat. The main deck consists of an “engine room”, 8 small berths, a galley, food stores, and a dining/drinking hall. The upper deck consists of a large gambling hall, 10 berths, and an aft dinging/drinking hall. The uppermost deck houses steering, captain’s cabin, and a large executive berth (Lucrecia’s chambers) aft. The lower deck contains numerous small berths, crew’s quarters, stores, and the lower portion of the engine room.
Glowing lanterns the shape of serpent’s eyes hang from stanchions and posts along the outside decks, flickering through all hours of the night. During the day, the Queen is quieter, yet the place never truly sleeps. Here is a place that caters to the vices and base needs of central Varisia at all hours.
The Queen of Paradise, serves as the stronghold of Lucrecia and the administrative center of her entire operation. All of the crew aboard the Queen are thoroughly dominated by Lucrecia and within her thrall. Lucrecia operates the Paradise as her private domain and none vouchsafes her control. The staff of the Queen are unnaturally welcoming of newcomers and the games seem uncharacteristically rigged in favor of the patrons. The guards will be suspicious of the PCs, but still intent on introducing them to the vices the Queen has to offer.
Among the services Lucretia offers to her renters is security. She employs a dozen human Enforcers (Fighter 4/Rogue 3), all of whom started their careers as mercenaries, soldiers, or sailors but lost their jobs due to laziness, theft, or incompetence. Once they come to work for Lucrecia, though, they learn quickly the value of remaining alert and sober while on the job—those who disappoint are never seen again.
The enforcers bunk in hammocks on the lower deck. Once a week, an enforcer gets a day of shore leave, but never more than two guards at a time—at any one time, there are 12 enforcers onboard, ready to respond to an alarm. Of these, six patrol the decks, two receive visitors from the shore, and four sleep in their hammocks.
Three giant gars prowl the waters beneath the Queen. They are trained to heed Lucrecia’s call if summoned, but mostly just interested in anything that falls into the water.
Down in the muck dwells Black Tongue, a prodigious giant snapping turtle. The gars know to stay out of his way. But Lucrecia has a special bell she rings to summon Black Tongue to supper.
A1. The Quarterdeck:
The sound of carousing booms from the elegantly painted ship. A gangplank provides access to the forward part of the main deck. Attached above the bow is a canvas sign painted in gaudy colors announcing “The Queen of Paradise—Your Just Reward by Royal Decree”. A smaller wooden sign under it points aft: “Ghordozo’s—Wines, Spirits, & Gourmet Viands!”
Trappers, traders, travelers, drunkards, and prostitutes carouse amid the two decks, seemingly oblivious to the weather or time of day. Here and there, large men dressed in bright burgundy cloaks patrol the decks, with blackwood longbows in hand they are grim faces in a sea of revelry.
Apart from being propositioned by whores or accidentally shoved by drunkards, the PCs should have little problem exploring this area unless they attempt to sneak into the uppermost deck.
A2. Engine Room:
Port, starboard, and aft doors provide entrance to the “engine room”. This chamber consists of a large “boiler” with an access hatch, a head & piston, and a shaft (connected to the flywheel below) and a ladder leading down below decks.
The boiler consists of two chambers. An upper high-pressure steam chamber connected to a piston. And a lower "burn" chamber occupied by an enthralled captive fire elemental. Water is suction fed from a tank fore of the lower deck to replenish the upper chamber.
Several drunkards, sailors, and revelers dance and drink in the open area to the aft of the Queen. Along the starboard bulkhead is a long blackwood bar behind which hangs a carved wooden sign, “Ghordozo’s”. Forward of the bar, a pass-through window provides access to the kitchen, where the masters of Ghordozo’s engage in the alchemy of mixology and gastronomy. The masters are two dark-skinned human brothers wrapped in red veils—these are twin Vudrans named Anpugit (N male human expert 6) and Rajeek (CN male human expert 4/rogue 3), entrepreneurs, traders, and chefs always looking for new delicacies and delectable to add to their offerings. Of the two, Anpugit is the more garrulous—he does most of the talking while Rajeek quietly hangs back and tends his creations.
Two stairs provide access to more private seating on the aft end of the upper deck. Here also there is a view over the stern of the Queen. Forward of Ghordozo’s, a thick burgundy curtains provides access to the Corridor of Sighs and beyond that the Smoking Jinn Passage.
A4. Corridor of Sighs:
A thick burgundy curtain shields this corridor running from Ghordozo’s forward to the “engine room”. Small, tight berths line the corridor – each curtained by a thick maroon drape. They contain little more than simple post bed with a straw-stuffed mattress and perhaps a couple of blanket. Above the entrance to each alcove is a red paper lantern – the air is thick with incense. The scent of anise, rosewater, and cinnamon pour forth from smoking bronze braziers hanging from the ceiling. Several scantily-clad men and women loiter in front of the alcoves indicating their availability.
The Corridor of Sighs is overseen by a madam named Halvara (CN female half-elf expert 7). A patron talks Halvara, pays and pays a 5gp fee to wander the corridor, seeking any of the men and women who work here until he finds one who strikes his fancy. The two retire to an alcove for 15 minutes of low-cost bliss. Halvara herself has been known to personally entertain wealthier customers (she charges 100 gp for her time, though). Rumor holds that she is Lucrecia’s sometimes lover—whether or not this is true, the rumor is enough and few patrons ever even think about causing trouble here.
At the forward end of the Corridor of Sighs is a doorway to the engine room and a stair leading below to the Smoking Jinn Passage.
B1. The Paradise Room:
A fine wooden stair provides access to the upper deck of the Queen of Paradise. From above the raucous sound of laughter and periodic roars of victory sound. The Paradise Room is a gambling hall. The forward upper deck contains tables packed with gamblers, drinkers, and carousers—dice clatter, cards are dealt, wheels spin, and coins aplenty dance and jangle to the fickle whim of fate. An enforcer is always found patrolling here, though fights are rare. Anyone causing trouble is cautioned by one of several Handmaidens. Persistent troublemakers are typically thrown over the side, and on lucky nights they don’t have to worry about the inhabitants of the dark waters of Claybottom Lake.
A small, neat white sign on the aft bulkhead announces “White Owl Passage—clean linens at cheap rates.”
A simple yet elegant stair leads upward to the uppermost deck (containing the wheelhouse and executive suite). Aft of the Paradise Room stretches the White Owl Passage that links to the upper level of Ghordozo’s.
B2. White Owl Passage:
A passage runs fore and aft centerline of the upper deck. Small private berths line the passage. Here, those whose endurance has been taxed by the wild cavorts of the Queen can retreat to sleep it off. The rates are good, only 4 sp/night, but the beds are lumpy and cramped – and mostly clean. Still, with Lucrecia’s presence, nights spent here are relatively safe. A lisping gnome named Tugginswardgil (CN male gnome expert 3/rogue 8) presides over the berthing. Tugginswardgil is a wall-eyed character with a crumpled hat, patchy beard, an extensive collection of keys (most of which he has no idea what they open), and a very, very sharp knife.
C1. Smoking Jinn Passage:
A sign depicting a leering smoky jinni points the way below decks.
A long, low ceiling passage runs the length of the lower deck. There are several small rooms containing padded bunks and couches. Thick, pungent smoke assails the nose below decks. Glossy-eyed patrons loll about and mewl, their minds burning with shiver, pesh, qat, flayleaf, and other exotic drugs. A skinny, short human named Bezzeraty (CN male human expert 3) wanders languidly about the smoky rooms, wheeling a large hookah to and fro on a cart and muttering “Get smoked!” at anyone who enters. Many people mistake 3-foot-tall Bezzeraty for a gnome or halfling, an error sure to incite his shrieking anger and bring several enforcers running. Likewise, he starts shrieking if visitors don’t pay him the 5 gp entrance fee to enjoy his wares.
Anyone who spends at least a minute in this smoke-filled area must make a DC 14 Fortitude save to avoid taking 1d4 points of Wisdom damage; each hour, a new saving throw is required. When a patron passes out completely, Bezzeraty rifles through the patron’s pockets to find gold to pay for his troubles, and if successful he calls upon a Paradise enforcer to drag the unconscious body to a berth above.
D1. Throne of Serpents:
This large room (aft of the wheelhouse) has been converted into a throne room of sorts. The walls are thick with brilliant and beautiful tapestries from Tian Xia and Vudra depicting sensuous and erotic displays—with an emphasis on nagas, serpent-folk, and other ophidian creatures. Numerous large wicker baskets line the walls. Fragrant smoke rises from a censor in one corner.
158 miles from Magnimar is the Rottiglem Dam. The Rotti Run empties into a broad lake before a large earthen and stone damn. The Dry Run is built across the crest of the dam. Atop the dam sits a stout stone gate control house which manages the spillway. The dam falls within the remit of the Waldgraffine of Thaur.
The Dam Master is Rivilas Wellner (human, Expert) – who has overseen the Rottiglem for thirty-odd years. Rivilas’s wife, “Mother Wellner” sells pies, fish stew, and strong ale to travelers. A small contingent of the Waldgraffine’s men-at-arms are stationed here under the command of Knight-Sergeant Zemund Vongammann (Chelish human, Ftr 6).
Recently arrived before the dam is Marlbloth, a vicious female scrag. She is very canny for a scrag and still trying to figure out exactly what she wants to do (presumably eat something tasty with minimal effort). She finds boggards distasteful and wants nothing to do with the Mushfens.
Hamlet, 171 miles from Magnimar. Population 160, primarily human, some other civilized races. The village is defended by a wooden palisade and ditch. It is governed by a mayor, Nother Schaeger (Chelish human, Sorcerer 5/Aristrocrat 3). Hrownen was devastated by warfare long ago, and many buildings are empty or in ruins.
Scattermere and the Scattermere Bridge:
The Dry Way winds down out of the Oldath Hills and then for two miles runs along the thin high ground between the Scattermere and the Yondabakari River. 176 miles from Magnimar the Dry Way crosses the Scattermere Bridge: a large mossy stone bridge over a narrow arm of a small lake (the Scattermere).
Wartle -- detailed elsewhere.
A tower of massive timbers marks the location where the Wartle Ferry crosses the Yondabakari. The timber tower supports a massive iron chain. A capstan powered by two oxen on the mossy old ferry threads through the chain. The ferry itself is a moldy old barge capable of transporting 2 wagons and their teams across the river at one go. On the far side of the Yondabakari is the village of Grout, which much like Wartle is built entirely upon timbers sunk into the swamp. Beyond the swamps the Dry Way threads along the banks of the Yondabakari among the trees of the Sanos Forest. This is the only area of the Sanos where it is safe to harvest wood – and even here there is a hesitancy to harm any growing trees.
Grout is fairly insignificant, being little more than an inn and tavern, aptly called the Grout Inn, catering to those that missed the day’s last ferry. The ferry generally runs every 2-3 hours, the duration of the crossing plus a quick change of the oxen.
[spoiler=New Sanos Trail]
Snow crunches underfoot amid the shorn ash and oak. To the east is a large frosted meadow where a few shaggy cattle graze. A cloying sweet scent fills the air. Nestled in among the trees is a large building of stone and wood – four chimneys top it from which waft light colored smoke. Two large oak doors face the road – carved with scenes of The Hunt. Atop the lintel a sign reads “Wyrmworks Spirits” in the gnomish runes. Beyond crouches a ramshackle building of dark wood – a sign appears to hang above its doors. Other buildings peek out amid bare shrubs and from behind numerous prodigious trees.
The dark building is The Sign of the Cheated Wyrm – a rustic woodland inn. The hamlet of Wyrmcheater is at the heart of Wyrmdale – an area of wooded downs, small lakes, and meadows outside the domain of the Sanos Margreve. Mainly gnomes, changelings, and “civilized” fey folk they are an independent lot. The village “court” is overseen by the Schultz, Mungafarn Chollyoak, a bespectacled near-gnome (and probably also something else, as he is nearly 8 feet tall and looks more than a little ogrish) with a fine burgundy beard. “Munga” is also the foreman at the Wyrmworks and well respected by the labor force.
P.H. Dungeon wrote:
Yeah, I thought about this a bit more -- and you are probably correct.
So far we've been playing for 19 months and are only just starting Chapter 3.
I'm hoping AP fatigue doesn't set in.
Chapter 3 and 4 both seem pretty flexible in terms of staying on track. And so far my players have enjoyed the diversions I've given them. But there have been signs that perhaps I should speed things along.
Point well taken.
P.H. Dungeon wrote:
Agreed, with these adventure paths you can't afford to spend too much time on stuff that isn't moving the story forward.
Why would you say that?
My PCs have spent 6 months (RW) and still aren't to TBF yet. Now they have been side-tracked by a dragon in the Sanos Forest.
The timelines as presented in the AP are very malleable. Even those things that seem time bound don't have to be. How long would it really take Teraktinus and company to get to Sandpoint? Overland. Through the Churlwood and Fogscar Mountains... Yes they are giants...but armies don't march very fast.
I advise GM's to spend as much time outside of the AP as they want and the players desire.
Buff. Buff. Buff.
Don't hesitate to increase the power of your critters. As Latrecis reminds us, this was written for 4 PCs. 6+ cohorts, or 5 buffing min/max'ers (who work as a team) are going to mow down foes. Too many of the final fights in the AP are against a single BBEG. So don't be afraid to change things up. Cruise this Forum for advice -- back in the bad old 3.5 days there was an entire thread on beefing up the AP for 6 PCs -- adapt that for PFRPG. Chaining encounters and using smart tactics is a good start.
This was my thought as well.
I may actually capitalize on it. I'm using the "level when story appropriate" system, so I'm not worried about added encounters or side-treks. And a series of nasty wizard foes sounds like fun.
It might also help to make both Barl and Mokmurian more of their element. Give Barl a few more undead servitors such that he feels more like a necromancer. Mokmurian in being a Servant of Greed (transmutation) should have access to lots of experimental tranformative magic. While the Hounds of Tindalos are interesting (from a Lovecraftian point of view), they seem more like what a summoner would have than a transmuter. I'm pondering moving them elsewhere in the complex (plenty of corridors that could be unblocked) and planting something else as his guardians.
I also think that the One Final BBEG trope might be a bit over-used in this AP. I'm pondering how to make that different as well.
I was thinking that maybe Barl wasn't alone when he was sent down to Hook Mountains, but rather he was part of a small band of evil giant adventurers. So I would reduce Barl somewhat (or keep him as written for my 6 PCs) and add a fire giant fighter (and smith to address the question of "where do the magic ogre hooks come from?"), a frost giant oracle, and maybe an evil wood giant inquisitor. I don't think they need a rogue.